Tuesday 18 Jun 2024

Jerusalem: Tracing the life of Jesus

A visit to seven holy sites mentioned in the Bible

Jerusalem: Tracing  the life of Jesus

The Garden of Gethsemane.

To walk where Jesus walked, to live where He lived, to journey where He journeyed, to witness what He did and to live when He died. Jerusalem is the city where it all happened. 

Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world, the golden city. Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible so many times, but to have physically stood in the same city, where Jesus underwent his passion before his death, was truly a dream come true for me and for many of the tourists all over the world. 


There are very few instances, recorded in the Bible, where Jesus cried and ‘Dominus Flevit, a Roman Catholic Church located on the Mount of Olives, opposite the walls of the old city of Jerusalem is one of them. ‘Dominus Flevit’ in Latin means, “The Lord wept”. This was the place where Jesus wept, as he looked in lament over the city Jerusalem and said, “Jerusalem Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who sent you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing”.

The steps where Jesus walked.


Walking down the slope from the church is the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus spent the night praying, along with his disciples, before he was arrested. The Garden of Gethsemane holds history and beauty, like no other garden in the world. There remain eight olive trees presently, all from the time of Jesus standing tall and spreading wide. 

Church of the Garden of Gethsemane. In front of the altar is the rock where Jesus sweated blood.

In the garden of Gethsemane, there stands a church known as the ‘Basilica of the Agony’ or ‘The All Nations Church’ built by the Italian architect, Antonio Barluzzi, in 1924. Inside is the rock on which Jesus sweated blood. This whole church is constructed in such a way, that it represents a piece of the agony, the painful suffering, the excruciating pain that Christ experienced, before he underwent the Cross.


The place that holds a special place in my heart is the House of Caiaphas, which was the place they bought Jesus to, after arresting him in the Garden of Gethsemane. As per the Jewish law, a prisoner could not be tried in the night, so they kept him in the dungeon in Caiaphas’ house. Paul Siqueira, the tour leader from Zion Tours and Travels, explained to us that they lowered Jesus by a rope from the top and kept him in a standing position against the wall with his knees bent forward and arms folding at the elbows on either side the entire night. 

The House of Caiphas and the dungeon where Jesus spent his last night.

At present, there are steps going down, to that small place. When I went down the steps, and saw the small area that Jesus was kept in, it brought tears to my eyes. Paul then prayed over everyone of us pilgrims, and many were slain in the spirit while others started speaking in tongues, and yet others, including me had tears streaming down our faces. The presence of the spirit was felt so powerfully in Caiaphas’ house and it was indeed the highlight of the entire pilgrimage for me.

The courtyard outside the dungeon where the cock crowed thrice.


Saying ‘Way of the Cross’ every Sunday before Mass didn’t mean much to me until I actually walked the same ‘Way of the Cross’ that Christ walked, the same streets where he trod, where he fell, I could see every station come alive, and for the first time ever, picture everything as if it were just taking place before me.

The Via Dolorosa and Way of the Cross.

Now, a bustling market place, with lines of shops on either side, but the narrow road remains the same as it was during Jesus’ time. The last station ending, where the Holy Sepulchre Church starts. 


The Holy Sepulchre Church, truly a magnificent church standing tall in Jerusalem, taking in thousands of pilgrims and tourists every day. There are processions held during an hourly basis and prayers whispered evaporating through the walls up to the heavens every minute. The anointing is so strong, at all times. 


Golgotha or ‘the place of the skull’ where Jesus breathed his last, was a touching experience for me, as I got to put my hand down the same hole where the wooden Cross once stood over 2000 years ago. The Cross then, seen as a symbol of shame, but now as a symbol of reverence. As I put my hand down, I was able to picture crowds jeering and mocking at Jesus, and Jesus’ mother crying beside him. He died just so that I could live, an experience I will cherish forever. At the side of the hole where the Cross was, is the 40-foot rock that cracked when Jesus died. 


There are lines of people waiting to enter the tomb of Jesus, everyone getting a few minutes inside to see the small tomb where the Saviour of the world was laid. The Anointing Stone on which Jesus’ body was kept is displayed at the entrance of the Holy Sepulchre. As I bent down to kiss the stone where Jesus was kept, along with all the other worshippers, I could instantly imagine Jesus being laid there many years ago. The presence of the Lord is indeed felt powerfully in Golgotha, Jerusalem, enough to bring people all over the world to the holy place.

It is hard for a person to go there, and not return changed.  The Jerusalem in the Bible is the Jerusalem that I witnessed. 

[The writer is a final year student of BBA at Don Bosco College, Panaji]

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